No-Money-Down Niche Sites

In the 1980s and 1990s, a business phenomenon arose called "no money down real estate."  Its superstar was Carleton Sheets.  Remember him?  He was on late-night TV selling get-rich-quick schemes with techniques on how to buy real estate with no money down. 

Carleton Sheets's infomercials were always wedged around some amazing product peddled by Ron Popeil, such as the Pocket Fisherman or his father Sam Popeil's legendary Veg-O-Matic, or my personal favorite, Popeils GLH spray-on hair.  I never did get a satisfactory explanation of what happens if that hair was caught in a rainstorm, so I never bought the product.

But give Popeil credit.  Campy though it was, a lot of his stuff worked and still gets good reviews.  Carleton Sheets's instructional products were not as well thought of.

First, if Sheets was making so much money selling no-money-down real estate, why would he give away his secrets?  Second, it seems there was more money to be had in selling tapes and videos than in buying and selling no-money-down real estate.

The problem with such a system is that, while technically not a pyramid scheme, it is perilously close.  Such schemes work if only a few people use them.  When everybody uses schemes, such as no-money-down real estate, the margin of profit evaporates due to competition.  Not so with Ron Popeil's Pocket Fisherman, which is limited only by the amount of fish in local bodies of water, nor his father's Veg-O-Matic, which is limited only by the number of potatoes available and the desire for julienned fries.

Into this realm of surreal money-making schemes has come the internet niche site – a site that has superficial informational articles, quite often lightweight, surrounded by ads.  In theory, some of the ads should generate income from commissions when people click on them and make a purchase.

The idea is that if the articles are good enough, the niche site will attract readers and rise high enough to stand out on Google to be found readily by search engines.  With only a little effort, one's website will be a star, with more people clicking on the ads.  The reality is that plagiarism is rampant, with everyone copying and writing what is essentially a variation of the same article.

If one were expecting to make money by writing a niche site about the trending "tiny house" market with the idea that after commissions, one should be making thousands of dollars a month, a quick look at Google will show that there are 55 million sites to compete with.  If one thinks he can write articles good enough to stand out, one should be apprised that, thanks to cutting and pasting, the article and the photo that goes with it will circle the globe in a matter of minutes.

If one were to start a website on Japanese digital cameras, one would find over 5 million websites  to compete with.  So much for get-rich-quick schemes.

Of course, there are social media tricks to rise higher in Google searches – with the idea that more people will land on your site, and you will make more money – but Google has gotten wise to the tricks.  Google now prefers substantive content.   And anyone who has been to these sites soon realizes they all use variations of the same content.  So much for substance.

Niche sites may have worked all well and good a decade ago, when the practitioners of this new scheme were relatively few, but with the advent of cheap web hosting, and the improvements in user-friendly WordPress, countless numbers of people have taken up the practice of writing niche sites with the idea of getting rich quick.

I know a gentlemen, a rather well educated man, who ran a profitable golf magazine a decade ago.  He is now moving over to the internet and cannot understand why the number of visitors to his site is so low and why he cannot sell advertising.  He wants quality articles, but I told him that in the internet age, quantity often trumps quality.  He is interested in good photography on his site, but I keep having to remind him that most people do not have retina-quality screens, and he is wasting his time.

All the rules have changed, except the urge to get rich quick.

The real interesting thing to notice is that there are over 2 million results for "niche site" on Google and over half a million instructional videos.  In fact, there are niche sites on how to build niche sites.  One site has over 100 podcasts.  The ads offer web hosting at Bluehost and site building software.  Another website will instruct you on how to make niche sites... for a fee.

Shades of Carleton Sheets!  There seems to be more money explaining how to build niche sites than there is in actually building niche sites.

It seems web hosting companies are the ones most prospering by this phenomenon – that and the retailers, who are getting what amounts to free advertising.

I have been doing web design as a hobby for the past ten years.  I remember using WordPress when it was in Version 1.9, and very few recognized its potential to become a CMS.  I did, and I used it almost immediately for that reason.  Around 2008 and 2009, I was writing WordPress themes.  I gave up when HTML5 came out and the themes became hypercomplex – they are now written by teams.

But the lure of writing a wonder-site still overcomes me, and I regularly set out to do so.  However, I am constrained by the reality that I would be competing against millions.

The competition has become so rarified that the goal now is to make a niche site, even if it performs poorly, and sell the domain and site at ten times the monthly income.  I suppose this is equivalent to selling niche site derivatives.

Human nature has not changed on the internet.  It has just reached its full expression.

My respect for Ron Popeil, however, has increased.  At least his stuff worked.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish in high school, lo those many decades ago.  He writes on the Arabs of South America at http://latinarabia.com.

In the 1980s and 1990s, a business phenomenon arose called "no money down real estate."  Its superstar was Carleton Sheets.  Remember him?  He was on late-night TV selling get-rich-quick schemes with techniques on how to buy real estate with no money down. 

Carleton Sheets's infomercials were always wedged around some amazing product peddled by Ron Popeil, such as the Pocket Fisherman or his father Sam Popeil's legendary Veg-O-Matic, or my personal favorite, Popeils GLH spray-on hair.  I never did get a satisfactory explanation of what happens if that hair was caught in a rainstorm, so I never bought the product.

But give Popeil credit.  Campy though it was, a lot of his stuff worked and still gets good reviews.  Carleton Sheets's instructional products were not as well thought of.

First, if Sheets was making so much money selling no-money-down real estate, why would he give away his secrets?  Second, it seems there was more money to be had in selling tapes and videos than in buying and selling no-money-down real estate.

The problem with such a system is that, while technically not a pyramid scheme, it is perilously close.  Such schemes work if only a few people use them.  When everybody uses schemes, such as no-money-down real estate, the margin of profit evaporates due to competition.  Not so with Ron Popeil's Pocket Fisherman, which is limited only by the amount of fish in local bodies of water, nor his father's Veg-O-Matic, which is limited only by the number of potatoes available and the desire for julienned fries.

Into this realm of surreal money-making schemes has come the internet niche site – a site that has superficial informational articles, quite often lightweight, surrounded by ads.  In theory, some of the ads should generate income from commissions when people click on them and make a purchase.

The idea is that if the articles are good enough, the niche site will attract readers and rise high enough to stand out on Google to be found readily by search engines.  With only a little effort, one's website will be a star, with more people clicking on the ads.  The reality is that plagiarism is rampant, with everyone copying and writing what is essentially a variation of the same article.

If one were expecting to make money by writing a niche site about the trending "tiny house" market with the idea that after commissions, one should be making thousands of dollars a month, a quick look at Google will show that there are 55 million sites to compete with.  If one thinks he can write articles good enough to stand out, one should be apprised that, thanks to cutting and pasting, the article and the photo that goes with it will circle the globe in a matter of minutes.

If one were to start a website on Japanese digital cameras, one would find over 5 million websites  to compete with.  So much for get-rich-quick schemes.

Of course, there are social media tricks to rise higher in Google searches – with the idea that more people will land on your site, and you will make more money – but Google has gotten wise to the tricks.  Google now prefers substantive content.   And anyone who has been to these sites soon realizes they all use variations of the same content.  So much for substance.

Niche sites may have worked all well and good a decade ago, when the practitioners of this new scheme were relatively few, but with the advent of cheap web hosting, and the improvements in user-friendly WordPress, countless numbers of people have taken up the practice of writing niche sites with the idea of getting rich quick.

I know a gentlemen, a rather well educated man, who ran a profitable golf magazine a decade ago.  He is now moving over to the internet and cannot understand why the number of visitors to his site is so low and why he cannot sell advertising.  He wants quality articles, but I told him that in the internet age, quantity often trumps quality.  He is interested in good photography on his site, but I keep having to remind him that most people do not have retina-quality screens, and he is wasting his time.

All the rules have changed, except the urge to get rich quick.

The real interesting thing to notice is that there are over 2 million results for "niche site" on Google and over half a million instructional videos.  In fact, there are niche sites on how to build niche sites.  One site has over 100 podcasts.  The ads offer web hosting at Bluehost and site building software.  Another website will instruct you on how to make niche sites... for a fee.

Shades of Carleton Sheets!  There seems to be more money explaining how to build niche sites than there is in actually building niche sites.

It seems web hosting companies are the ones most prospering by this phenomenon – that and the retailers, who are getting what amounts to free advertising.

I have been doing web design as a hobby for the past ten years.  I remember using WordPress when it was in Version 1.9, and very few recognized its potential to become a CMS.  I did, and I used it almost immediately for that reason.  Around 2008 and 2009, I was writing WordPress themes.  I gave up when HTML5 came out and the themes became hypercomplex – they are now written by teams.

But the lure of writing a wonder-site still overcomes me, and I regularly set out to do so.  However, I am constrained by the reality that I would be competing against millions.

The competition has become so rarified that the goal now is to make a niche site, even if it performs poorly, and sell the domain and site at ten times the monthly income.  I suppose this is equivalent to selling niche site derivatives.

Human nature has not changed on the internet.  It has just reached its full expression.

My respect for Ron Popeil, however, has increased.  At least his stuff worked.

Mike Konrad is the pen name of an American who wishes he had availed himself more fully of the opportunity to learn Spanish in high school, lo those many decades ago.  He writes on the Arabs of South America at http://latinarabia.com.

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